Friday, July 13, 2012

Chicken or Fruit Salad?

My family’s chickens eat coconut, rice (if they’re lucky) and anything they can dig up.  At this moment they are dining on the few ripe bananas of a stalk that is ripening next to my house.  One of my brothers brought it from the plantation, presumably for human consumption.  If chickens eat coconut and bananas, do they taste like a tropical fruit salad?  They also eat mango when it’s in season, which sadly isn’t now.  My experience with Samoan free range chicken is that it is tough and tastes like…chicken.

 I know I’d be happy to have some of those ripe bananas.  These are my favorite kind.  Called misiluki here, they are what we call finger bananas at home.  Very small and sweet.  And, at home, very expensive.  I could get some at the market tomorrow but I’m considering taking a break from the weekly trek.  I don’t need any vegetables or fish so will probably pass on a 2+ hour ride on a crowded bus and work on some much needed house cleaning instead.  Or write some new posts for my blog or go swimming.

Today was a great day at school.  I was back in the classroom after four days of office duty.  The two Year 7 classes were happy to have me back and I told them I hadn’t seen them in so long we needed to get reintroduced.  I asked them questions about themselves then had them ask me questions, since we’ve been working on “w” questions (who, why, where, etc.)  Then we shifted to food.  “What is your favorite food”, “What sandwiches do you like?”  I was shifting them to work on adjectives. 

One class knows which words (generally) are adjectives but uses a very limited variety.  I wanted them to describe the food they know best.  Is taro salty?  Is it chewy?  Is it sweet?  Yes, my young friends, new adjectives.

I asked what they eat that is crunchy.  “Taro!”  they screamed.  Not really.  Yes, some parts get burned in the umu and are crunchy but not in the way we normally think of the word.  We talked about the crunchy snack foods they know.  I asked if they have tasted dill pickles.  They have not.  I promised to bring dill pickles for them to taste on Monday.  Is that cruel?  Or educational.  I will also bring my camera and know it will be fun for me.  Samoans are used to a pretty bland diet so dill pickles are a shocker, I’ve discovered.

Yesterday I found out I could not pass the English language trial exam.  Well at least not the part I didn’t author.  I figured I could cruise through creating the answer key but my bosses begged to differ.  Infermative?  What the hell is an infermative?  It is the negative.  What is the antonym of sharp?  My answer “dull” was incorrect.  It was blunt.  I argued that both (along with a plethora of other words) were correct.  I did win the grammatical duel about the use of punctuation, in particular, quotation marks.  Score one for the native language speaker.  I’ve acknowledged all along that the Samoan teachers, by and large, know more about grammar than I do because they had to learn it to speak English.  I just know what sounds right, which is often incorrect. 

Changing the subject totally, since this is a stream-of-consciousness kind of post, there seems to be a new trend among the children.  They have started telling me they love me and blowing me kisses, in addition to yelling my name.  The wee ones (under 4) still just yell my name and wave like crazy.

Yesterday I was sitting near the road (no phone service in my fale) talking to a friend in the States.  A mother and her toddler walked by after a visit to my family’s store.  The little girl was staring, yelling my name and waving like crazy.  So intent on waving goodbye to me that after about twenty feet of walking and waving, never looking where she was going, her mom saved her from walking head first into a post by grabbing her shirt.  Both the mom and I thought it was really funny.  The wee one took it in stride and kept staring, waving and yelling my name for another fifty yards down the road.

The pigs and dogs staged an epic battle in their on-going war last night.  It seems some of the pigs were digging up the yard between my house and my family’s house.  They sent the dogs to rout them and the dogs decided that should include even the pigs asleep next to my open window.  There was much growling and grunting and barking, along with the pitter-pat of porcine hooves as they raced around the house.  Because instead of running away, they began to run in circles around my fale.  I assume they figured the dogs would give it up and they could go back to where they prefer to sleep.  After a few laps, the dogs won and the pigs retreated to the swamp.

Less than an hour later, the dogs had gone back to sleep near the family’s faleo’o and the pigs sneaked back to my house.  Grunting softly all the way.  I knew they were back from the grunting and the way they heave themselves at the side of my house.  Hopefully the pig noises disguise the snoring that I’m sure my family can hear coming from my fale.

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